Senyati Camp to Pandamatenga
Distance: 90 kms
Altitude gain: 250 metres
Altitude loss: 220 metres
Difficulty: A tough ride because of a strong headwind and the heat … as in HEAT
Temp: 38 Celcius as measured by the car, but on the tar it was MUCH hotter
Max heart rate: 162
Average ride speed: 17.1 kph
Today is Paul’s 74th birthday, so we started the day off by singing him the Happy Birthday song. I think he was very glad it only has one verse.
This part of Botswana is very flat. Mostly there is scrub mopane trees – very few large ones, and I suspect this is because the elephants don’t like anything taller than they are … but that’s just my view. Where there is little or no mopane, there is an abundance of thorn and combretum. I have always known such bush to be called Jesse Bush. At this time of the year there is no fresh growth and no green leaves – so brown is the colour of the bush. Many, many hues of brown … but brown. The ground is mostly grey sand or else black clay. For me, the apparent never-ending brownness and greyness gets boring. There are a few teak trees and large acacias that have somehow survived elephant predation, and they are like mini oases … but I emphasise that this is just my view. I’m sure some folk really like the ongoing monotony of brown and grey with the odd speckle of green. So, riding many kilometres through this browness is, and I repeat “for me”, part of the epic that Old Legs is about. Remember our motto – “do epic, have fun and do good”.
Today I managed two out of three – the fun part was missing for 88 of the 90 kms we rode. There was a serious headwind, so strong that often one could not freewheel. And it was hot. Did I mention it was hot? Yes, there was some game about – a few elephants, a giraffe or two, odd herds of impala. I was looking forward to getting to Panda Camp at Pandamatenga. And then just 5kms from town, the universe gave me a bonus. There was a quarry right next to the road, and the quarry had a bunch of water. I left the tar road, skedaddled down a track and plunged into the water. Whew, did it feel great! There were some locals nearby putting water into plastic drums. Paul asked them if there were any crocodiles in the water. “Yes”, they said, “but he is on the other side for now”.
Panda Camp was great – swimming pool, a cool thatched bar. In the evening Paul treated us to a fine supper – Botswana steak is excellent.